This past Monday night, one of my absolute favorite rock and rollers passed away. That was a rough day overall, with news of the Las Vegas shooting, then having inconsistent reports on the status of one of, if not the most, beloved American rocker. I overheard coworkers say he had died, and I kept on working, trying not to cry at my desk. Then on the way home, I heard 3 of his songs in a row, and in between them a DJ announced that Tom Petty had passed away, “confirmed by multiple sources”. Adding that made me question it; usually, they just say it without any such confirmation, these people usually know what they’re proclaiming. I kept looking online and could only confirm that he went into cardiac arrest and was being treated but then was taken off of life support. My mom told me they considered him to be brain-dead; I cried in the car on the way to dinner. I didn’t believe he was gone until his official accounts on various social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter) announced it so later that evening.
Tom Petty may have physically left the world, but his music will remain embedded in the hearts and souls of so many people, myself included. I grew up with his music, I’ve loved him my whole life, whether it’s been with The Heartbreakers, among other legends in the Traveling Wilburys, solo, or with Stevie Nicks (of Fleetwood Mac). He was also one of those rare, mystical gems who could not release a bad song if he tried. You probably know his biggest hits; I don’t know anyone that doesn’t. But here are few of my personal favorites:
“Oh my my, oh hell yes, honey put on that party dress. Buy me a drink, sing me a song, take me as I come ’cause I can’t stay long”
“Well let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint, turn the radio loud,”
“She’s gonna listen to her heart, it’s gonna tell her what to do. She might need a lot of loving but she don’t need you.”
“I’ll be the boy in the corduroy pants, you’ll be the girl at the high school dance. Run with me, wherever I go. Just play dumb, whatever you know.”
“It’s alright if you love me, it’s alright if you don’t. I’m not afraid of you running away honey, I got the feeling you won’t.”
“If you don’t feel complete, if I don’t take you all of the way then go, yeah go…but remember: good love is hard to find, good love is hard to fine…you got lucky, babe. You got lucky, babe, when I found you.”
This is literally just a handful, as Tom Petty solo and with the Heartbreakers had so many wonderful songs. You can go through their greatest hits compilations, and albums like Damn the Torpedoes and Wildflowers, and just sit back and enjoy the endless ride of good music. And if you crave more, go to his collaborations with other fantastic artists.
I couldn’t possibly write a tribute worthy enough of the man who wrote the soundtrack of our lives. Whose songs have such emotional depth, songs that have meant so much to me, given me so much comfort over the years, that I can listen to in every kind of mood. I can only express my gratitude by continuing to listen to this music for the rest of my life.
Okay, I can’t resist…here’s a few more of my favorites:
“Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some. Tell me why you want to lay there, revel in your abandon.”
“I know you really wanna tell me goodbye. I know you really want to be your own girl.”
“Everybody’s got somebody to lean on, put your body next to mine, and dream on.”
I’ll stop myself, I could go on all night…
Thank you, Tom Petty, for all of this beautiful music. May you rest in peace.